Every serious paddler understands the importance of leg strength for stand up paddling. In this month's "SUP Fitness & Nutrition" article from Jeffrey Morrison, Coach Jeff gives us the low down on how to get ... low ... and DOWN ...with these leg strengthening tips for paddlers! Plus, the stretches you need and nutrition tips for another great month of fall paddling ahead!
Leg Strength for SUPers: Quads, Glutes & Hamstrings
LEGS!! Not only are they extremely useful for walking, running and filling out our pants, but they are an integral part of your stand up paddle performance. Leg fatigue can seriously shorten your SUP session, while having increased leg strength will enhance and lengthen your time on the water. Whether you are rocking a downwinder, enjoying a leisurely flat water paddle or carving intense bottom turns on your surf SUP in Mexico, leg strength and endurance play a key role for a great stand up paddling experience.
There are a multitude of leg exercises from which to choose. It is important to do exercises targeting the legs with dynamic movements that increase your strength and endurance and work your balance as well. For this reason I prefer to not use machines unless there is no alternative. Also, keep in mind that your glutes (butt muscles) and hamstrings (back of the legs) are just as important as your quadriceps (front of your legs) for overall leg strength, endurance and balance.
SUP Fitness for Leg Strength: Squats and Deadlifts
Here are two exercises to will increase your leg strength and endurance as well as greatly increase your chances of winning “Best Legs on the Beach”.
The first leg exercise focuses on your quadriceps and the second focuses on the glutes and hamstrings. This way we target all sides of these powerful muscle groups. All exercises can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells or even wrist weights (small farm animals will do in a pinch).
Wall Ball Squats: Targets Quads, Glutes & Hammies
First, Starting Position: Place a stability ball against a wall and gently lean against it, positioning the top of the ball in the small of your back, but making contact with your tailbone, lower and mid-back as well. Your feet should be positioned 6 - 12" out in front of your body, hip-width apart and facing forward or turned out slightly.
Next, Downward Phase: Inhale and slowly lower your body, rolling the ball down the wall while keeping contact with your tailbone, low and mid-back against the ball. Focus on dropping your hips under the ball and pushing your hips back to reduce potential stress placed across your knees. Continue to lower yourself until challenged or until your thighs align parallel to the floor and hold this position briefly.
Final, Upward Phase: Exhale and slowly push your body up away from the floor, focusing on extending your hips to bring them back underneath your body. Continue pushing upwards until your hips and knees are fully extended. Refer to video above for further instruction.
Core Tip: To help develop the foundation of correct squat form, emphasize dropping your hips down and slightly under the ball, and avoid driving your knees forward.
Repetition: 3 to 4 sets of 10 -12 repetitions is a great start. As always, start with light and work your way up to more challenging squat positions.
Strong- Legged Dead Lifts: Core & More!
First, Starting Position: Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell (barbells also work) in an overhand grip (palms facing towards you). Knees should be slightly bent. The aim is to maintain this slight degree of flex throughout the movement without “locking out” your knees.
Next, Downward Phase: Bend at the hips and lower the barbell slowly towards the ground, keeping the back straight. Lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and glutes (back of legs and butt).
Final, Upward Phase: Slowly, keeping your back straight and neck aligned with the spine, come back to stand. Keep your chin slightly up and looking forward, not down to the ground.
Core Tip: Keep the barbell close to the body throughout the exercise and avoid sudden, jerky movements. The aim here is to keep the movement slow and controlled.
Repetition: Executing 3 to 4 sets of 6-8 repetitions is a great way to start. As always, start with light or even no weight and work your way up if you are new to resistance training.
After SUP Dynamic Stretching
As discussed in last month’s article on back strength, dynamic stretching is an excellent way to wrap up your workout session! Stretching will loosen up any tight muscles and joints and help you recover for your next paddle out on the water!
Here are a few great post session dynamic stretches:
Bent Over Starfish Twist
This exercise is great for the whole upper body, especially for sore shoulders and core muscles. Start with your legs shoulder width apart, and arms spread out wide. Keep your arms straight, rotate slowly at the waist and reach one arm towards the opposite foot. Slowly de-rotate and return to the standing, start position. Do this same movement with the opposite arm reaching towards the opposite foot.
Important: Make sure you accomplish this motion in a slow, controlled fashion in order to activate your core and protect your spine. If you’re unable to reach your hand to your foot, don’t force it. Instead, reach for your shin or knee, carefully. Do 3 sets 10-12 on each side.
SUPraspinatus Chest Crosses
This stretch targets the shoulders and the muscles of the chest and upper back. Be mindful of moving in a slow and controlled fashion. The aim in dynamic stretching is never to apply a great deal of force.
Start with your legs shoulder width apart. Arms will be extended at your sides just as you did with the Bent Over Twist. Slowly, bring arms together in front of your chest and continue crossing them at chest level with one arm going over the other. When you’ve gone as far as you can (and again don’t force the stretch) return to the start position and repeat. Switch which arm is on top each time. Go for completing 3 sets of 10 - 12.
SUP Nutrition: What a Crock!
(And, we don’t mean the comfy but hideous footwear)
Fall is on our doorstep here in New Hampshire, and that means a few things. Foliage will bring tourists, wetsuits will get thicker, and it’s time to dust off the crock pot. Crock pot recipes like this one are great for so many reasons. One of the best aspects about this cooking device is you can put all the ingredients into your crock pot and then go have a great session on the water, and then come back to a warm and nutritious meal! The following recipe for Tamari Chicken is quick, easy-to-prepare and has many options. The chicken can be used for tacos, sandwiches, lettuce wraps, and more!
Crock Pot Tamari Chicken
1 pound chicken thighs (vegan option: substitute vegan Italian sausages)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup coconut milk (canned, full fat)
2 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
½ Tablespoon fish sauce (or additional soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 Tablespoon green curry paste
½ Tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
3-5 Thai chilies (optional )
1: Place chicken thighs into the crock pot.
2: Combine other ingredients in large bowl and whisk together to combine.
3: Pour into the crock pot.
4: Cook on low heat for 2 hours.
5: Remove chicken thighs, saving the liquid from the crock pot if desired. Shred the chicken. Serve on tortillas, in sandwiches, in soups, or over rice. Enjoy!
As always, Stay Safe, Stay Strong, and Stay Stoked! Please feel free to email Coach Jeff if you have any questions: www.outdoorsfitcoach.com
Written by, Jeff Morrison